Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jones, W. Daryl

Committee Member

Peterson, Donna J.

Committee Member

Gordon, Jason S.

Committee Member

Hunt, Kevin M.

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

MSU Only Indefinitely

Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Forest Resources

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


My dissertation served two primary purposes: 1) assess the measurement and structural model properties of the Wildlife Value Orientations (WVO) scale in a unique geographical context, and across two historically underserved groups in wildlife conservation, namely African American and females; and 2) examine Mississippians’ value orientations, beliefs, attitudes, norms, and behavior towards wildlife that could be used by wildlife professionals to create more salient and effective wildlife conservation programs. I conducted a statewide survey of the general public in Mississippi resulting in 1,335 respondents. Using this data, I conducted confirmatory factor analysis on the 4-construct WVO model and found, after model respecification, a 3-construct model met acceptable model fit thresholds. I determined the scale was metrically invariant across race and gender subgroups which was critical for unbiased cross-group comparisons. Structural equation modeling analysis of the WVO cognitive model resulted in an alternative model where wildlife-related recreation subjective norms were found to be a mediator between wildlife-related beliefs and recreational attitudes. Multi-group analysis found that African Americans and Caucasians similarly conceptualized the WVO cognitive model with the exception of wildlife-related recreation attitudes not being as strong of a behavioral predictor for African Americans compared to Caucasians. Similarly, wildlife-related subjective norms were a stronger predictor of recreation behavioral intentions for males than females. Females demonstrated a significantly stronger negative relationship between mutualism and wildlife management attitudes towards lethal control of wildlife. Lastly, I found three WVO types existed in Mississippi: utilitarian, pluralist, and mutualist. African Americans were found to be more mutualistic, possess less favorable attitudes towards wildlife-related recreation, and participate less in those activities than Caucasians. Similarly, females demonstrated more mutualistic orientations and in turn expressed less favorable attitudes towards lethal control of wildlife and wildlife-related recreation, and participated less in recreation compared to males. In sum, I found the WVO scale and WVO cognitive model were reliable and valid predictors of behavioral intention. While further refinement of the scale and model are needed, the instruments presented in this study should prove to be valuable in developing wildlife conservation programs that reflect the values and attitudes of Mississippians.